Exploring behavioural responses to marketing strategy

Sonia is currently a Senior Lecturer in Marketing and the Program Convenor of the MBA and WiMBA programs at the University of Newcastle.

Sonia Vilches-Montero at NUSpace

Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods, Sonia conducts studies that identify the drivers of consumers’ decisions and behavioural responses to marketing strategy. Her current research examines the factors that influence: i) water conservation behaviours in regional Australia, ii) shoppers’ responses to omnichannel and social media strategies, and iii) how consumers’ process and respond to a range of branding, packaging and advertising strategies.

Sonia’s growing interest for consumer information-processing and behaviour.

Sonia began her research interest in consumer behaviour and cognition after her graduation with a bachelor’s in business degree. She decided to continue with an honours in consumer behaviour, and later on she earned a master’s degree through coursework and research components. Both her honours’ and master’s dissertations focused on the effect that varied types of socio-economic environments exert on how individuals perceive and evaluate marketing mix strategy.

Finally, Sonia became passionate about consumer information processing through her doctoral dissertation at Bond University. She successfully combined a series of follow-up experiments to show that consumers’ subjective perception of time spent waiting (e.g., waiting in line, file downloading time, etc) is driven by how the waiting time is filled with different events, which in turn can either increase or reduce their perceptions of time passing, as well as their level of satisfaction/dissatisfaction while waiting.

Retailing, Omnichannel and Social Media Research

Sonia’s research interests comprise shoppers’ cognition and behaviours across retailing and omnichannel environments. In this domain, she has studied how shoppers’ impulsive buying behaviours are triggered by processing the aesthetic features of products and packages. She has also shown how specific characteristics of loyalty cards can positively affect loyalty to a store. Currently, Sonia studies the effect that varied types of consumers’ psychological mindsets exert on the use of and satisfaction with contemporary omnichannel designs. In the social media domain, her work focuses on identifying the design factors that maximise the impact of social media campaigns, and provide a unique experience to the users.

Social Marketing Research with Impact

A second area of Sonia’s research expertise is social marketing. Social marketing is designed to create social change and achieve social good. It is focused on behaviours. Its goal is to change and maintain how people behave rather than just what they feel or believe about an issue. Using traditional marketing techniques, social marketing raises awareness of a given problem or cause and aims to persuade a community to change their behaviours. This way, it ensures that policy is based on an understanding of people’s lives, making policy goals realistic and achievable.

Sonia’s work on social marketing research has focused on how to encourage a range of water conservation behaviours in regional Australia. The challenges imposed by unprecedented draughts and lowering water reserves require the design of effective social marketing campaigns that elicit a positive response by the affected community. Joining forces with local a water corporation, Sonia has combined focus groups, surveys and quasi-experimental studies to identify the underlying factors that elicit sustainable water conservation behaviours in the Hunter Region. She has achieved this through theme identification, concept testing and campaign evaluations. The findings of her research have reported several successful campaigns that have conjunctively reduced the amount of water that is consumed and required to serve the Lower Hunter’s needs.

Branding, Packaging and Advertising Research

Finally, Sonia studies the effect of sensory marketing on consumers’ perception of and attitudes towards a brand. For example, brand and package design elements such as colour, texture, proportions, background and foreground designs can exert a series of influences on how the products and brand are seen by individuals. Sonia has shown that aesthetically pleasing product designs accelerate choice decisions in retail environments. Her recent research findings also point to the key role of package designs to promote healthy eating choices. She recently partnered with international collaborators Leslier Valenzuela (University of Chile) and Enrique Marinao (USACH) to conduct a series of follow-up experiments aiming to show the effect of different brand designs on individuals’ cognitive, affective and behavioural responses.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.